The big toothy grins were impossible to miss as Houston area second graders attending Project Saving Smiles, a dental program provided by The Houston Health Department and Houston Health Foundation. Support for the project also came from community volunteers and missionaries from the Texas Houston South Mission.
According to Robin Mansur, President and CEO of the Houston Health Foundation, these Houston Independent School District, (HISD) students were part of 10 missions, or weeks of service this year, stretching from October through April. The initiative also included approximately 5,900 students from Alief, Aldine, Fort Bend, Klein, Pasadena, and Spring ISDs. By the end of the year Project Saving Smile will have treated approximately 60,000 children since its inception in 2008.
The Houston Health Foundation noted that Project Saving Smiles’ purpose is to reduce the prevalence of tooth decay in underserved children and remove barriers to learning through providing dental screenings, dental sealants, fluoride varnish, and oral health education free of charge targeting Houston’s at risk 2nd graders who are enrolled in schools with 70% or more students on the Free and Reduced Lunch Program.
“Project Saving Smiles acts as a safety net, educating parents about what can be done for their children and where to go for service. It is a prevention-oriented program and we believe in the dental home model, so parents can connect with a dentist for the future,” Mansur stated.
“Missionaries from the Latter-day Saints have helped us from 2011. There are usually 8-10 who help with each service week. They are really like family and we so much appreciated their contribution. They are wonderful, wonderful people and we are very blessed to have their support. They all seem to be remarkably great with kids – very patient and playful, “added Mansur.
HISD Golfcrest Elementary School nurse Ellen Siegel, RN has seen the program flourish over the 8 years she has helped with Project Saving Smiles. “This program teaches kids not to be afraid of the dentist. At least 50% of our kids have never seen a dentist. The parents aren’t aware of opportunities available to their children, so each child is given a report and we follow up with the parents and give referrals which is so beneficial,” Siegel said.
As stated by the 2000 Surgeon General’s Report, children who suffer from oral health problems cannot learn well and miss days from school. Additionally, children who experience pain from tooth problems are likely to be distracted and unable to concentrate on their school work.
Dr. Teresita Ladrillo, Operations Chief of Project Saving Smiles for 10 years and Senior Dentist with the Houston Health Department, said, “Our battle is against cavities. They are preventable yet are not being prevented. When we first began the program, I couldn’t believe I am in the United States and seeing so many cavities. In the 30-minute oral health education we give a pre and post-test. Before the class the children score in the 60’s and after 30 minutes they score in the 90’s (percentiles).”
Sister Anne Welton, an LDS missionary from Reno, Nevada and Sister Carli Benton from Sacramento, California serving an LDS mission in the Houston area added,” We have been teaching kids about how to eat healthily, what sealants and cavities are, how to drink tap water because it has Fluoride, about flossing and brushing teeth and why it is important to keep our teeth clean- all the time.”
“We have been really happy with the LDS missionaries. They are professional. They learn fast and we always want them to come back,” Ladrillo said.
Baylei Webster a second-grade student from Golfcrest said, “It was great. It made my teeth tickle. I learned to keep my teeth clean.” Her classmate A’mya Watson chimed in, “I didn’t know what was going to happen. I liked the part where they put the pillow under my tongue.”
Hurricane Harvey dumped over 63 trillion gallons of rain on the Houston Texas area – the most in USA history
Mormon Helping Hands community volunteers swarmed over the Houston area to provide community service
Over 16,000 volunteers a day help with over 1,000,000 total manhours of service provided to flood victims
The baseball World Series Champions – Houston Astros – recognized the volunteers with a special night at the ballpark
- At the end of the third inning of the baseball game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays at Minute Maid Park in Houston, the PA system blared: “We’d like to welcome our Group of the Game from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. During Hurricane Harvey, there were as many as sixteen-thousand Mormon Helping Hands (MHH) volunteers working around Greater Houston each day and provided over one million man-hours of service. Thank you for your service!”
Nearly 5,000 church members, most wearing the MHH yellow shirts or vests went wild as the cameras panned across the cheering crowd, flashing it on the 124-foot-wide big screen.[Read more…]
In May of 2018, Spring Branch Independent School District (SBISD) hosted the fourth annual Daily Dose graduation, which provides adult conversational English instruction to parents.
Linda Buchman, Community Relations Officer with SBISD, gave the opening remarks to an overflow crowd. “We are so, so, so proud of you,” she said to the over one hundred graduates gathered in the Spring Woods Middle school parent center. “Each of you who has taken the time to come to class and to learn and to improve, you all are inspirations to each and every one of us. Our goals for your children are the same as you have set for yourselves, to continue to learn, to grow and to try new things. I hope that you will take these new skills that you have developed and continue to grow in your learning.”
“Miraculous”, “life-changing”, “sure witness of the spirit”. These are only a few of the descriptions associated with the recent production of “The Savior of the World” put on by the Richmond Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the west side of Houston, Texas.
“Alive, alert, awake, enthusiastic!” shouted the crowd of leaders from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) as they attended a Cub Scout training session Saturday, February 17, 2018. This event dubbed Little Philmont after the well-known Philmont Boy Scouts of America (BSA) training facility in New Mexico, was held at the church’s Klein chapel, 16535 Kleinwood Dr. in Spring, Texas.
Seventh graders Maria Pena, Lanea Autry and Regan Barrett from Leaman Junior High in the Lamar Independent School District giggled nervously as they waited their turn to be tested for eyeglasses in the Houston Health Foundation’s See to Succeed program. The girls agreed it was hard to see the board, hard to take notes and to do work in the classroom. “I failed the eye test at the nurse’s office, so I got to come,” Autry said. Any student identified by a school nurse or teacher is eligible.
Pat Segu,O.D. Clinical Associate Professor with the University of Houston College of Optometry and Clinical Director of See to Succeed shared that they are in the seventh year of this safety net program providing free eye exams and glasses to students. “We can bridge that gap for kids that never get to see an eye doctor. We can now see over 400 children per day, for 6 weeks totaling over 10,000 children per year. It takes all of us working together to make a difference for the kids in our community,” Segu said. Children from school districts all over the area participate.
The pervasiveness of Hurricane Harvey is such that everyone in the area has been affected or is closely connected with someone who has been affected emotionally and physically by its devastation. In Richmond, Texas in southwest Houston, members of the Richmond 1 and 2 wards in the Richmond Stake, rallied around fellow saints including Tace Hart, whose home was impacted by the flood waters brought on by the 50 plus inches of rain dumped by Harvey over 5 days.